A Star in Any Language

Gardner Award Winner for International: Best Writing Publication (article or editorial)
By Britney Riggs, Digital Marketing Specialist at Xylem Marketing

We asked Scott MacCallum, editor/publisher of Turf Matters, the following questions about his winning project “A Star in Any Language.”

Scott MacCallum

Please briefly describe your winning project.

A Star in Any Language was Turf Matters’ Ryder Cup preview. The Golf National, Paris Course Superintendent Alejandro Reyes, was a young Spaniard and an extremely impressive individual. He gave us more time than we expected to produce a half-hour videoed interview with him and free rein to photograph and drone film the course. The article was based on the incredible lengths he took to secure his job and high level of professionalism that went into preparing the course for what was the highest profile sporting event of 2018.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

We worked closely with Ransomes Jacobsen staff on the project as they wanted to maximize the benefit from the investment they made as a key sponsor of the Ryder Cup maintenance program. Ransomes Jacobsen saw Turf Matters as an ideal vehicle to showcase the commitment they had made to the success of Alejandro’s course preparation work. The result was a video that displayed Alejandro’s passion and no-compromise dedication. It was also Turf Matters’ first overseas assignment since it was launched in 2014.

What influenced your approach?

My aim always is to gain the trust and respect of my interview subject. Once that has been achieved, I make sure that an interview is more of a chat between friends, which will elicit better answers than a more structured, set-in-stone set of questions approach. Going in with an open mind, rather than having a fixed expectation of how the interview will go, is, I believe, the best approach. Sharing stories with an interview subject, also, makes the subject feel they are gaining something from the process, too.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

With 35 years experience as a golf writer, I know the game inside and out. And with nearly 25 of those years in the turf maintenance sector, I know enough to draw out the interesting aspects of a story from a superintendent. In this case, I saw Alejandro’s task of learning French for his vital second interview, while not relevant to the article’s main Ryder Cup preview goal, as a superb “hook” to gain the reader’s interest. I think the article captured the essence of Alejandro and showed what is required to produce a perfect Ryder Cup course.

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